SLA vs. SLO vs. SLI - Differences | Atlassian (2023)

If there’s one thing every tech company has in common, it’s this: users.

Whether you’re Google’s search engine, serving a billion active monthly users who interact with your service for free, or Salesforce, with 3.75 million paying subscribers, building a technology product means serving people.

And in today’s always-on world, people’s expectations—for free and paid services alike—are high. Speed. Uptime. Useful UX. Today’s user base expects everything to meet a high standard.

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Looker trusts Opsgenie to help deliver their service to 200,000 users every day.

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Which is why it’s important for companies to understand and maintain SLAs, SLOs, and SLIs—three initialisms that represent the promises we make to our users, the internal objectives that help us keep those promises, and the trackable measurements that tell us how we’re doing.

The goal of all three things is to get everybody—vendor and client alike—on the same page about system performance. How often will your systems be available? How quickly will your team respond if the system goes down? What kind of promises are you making about speed and functionality? Users want to know—and so you need SLAs, SLOs, and SLIs.

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(Video) SLA vs SLO vs SLI: All you need to know

SLA: Service Level Agreements

What is an SLA?

An SLA (service level agreement) is an agreement between provider and client about measurable metrics like uptime, responsiveness, and responsibilities.

These agreements are typically drawn up by a company’s new business and legal teams and they represent the promises you’re making to customers—and the consequences if you fail to live up to those promises. Typically, consequences include financial penalties, service credits, or license extensions.

The challenge of SLAs

SLAs are notoriously difficult to measure, report on, and meet. These agreements—generally written by people who aren’t in the tech trenches themselves—often make promises that are difficult for teams to measure, don’t always align with current and ever-evolving business priorities, and don’t account for nuance.

For example, an SLA may promise that teams will resolve reported issues with Product X within 24 hours. But that same SLA doesn’t spell out what happens if the client takes 24 hours to send answers or screenshots to help your team diagnose the problem. Does it mean the team’s 24-hour window been eaten up by client slow-downs or does the clock start and stop based on when clients respond? SLAs need to answer these questions, but they often fail to do so—a fact that has created a lot of animosity toward them from IT managers.

For many experts, the answer to this challenge is, first and foremost, that tech should be involved in the creation of SLAs. The more IT and DevOps collaborate with legal and business development to develop SLAs that address real-world scenarios, the more SLAs will start to reflect key realities, such as clients delaying their own issue resolution.

Who needs an SLA?

An SLA is an agreement between a vendor and a paying customer. Companies providing a service to users for free are unlikely to want or need an SLA for those free users.

SLO: Service Level Objectives

What is an SLO?

An SLO (service level objective) is an agreement within an SLA about a specific metric like uptime or response time. So, if the SLA is the formal agreement between you and your customer, SLOs are the individual promises you’re making to that customer. SLOs are what set customer expectations and tell IT and DevOps teams what goals they need to hit and measure themselves against.

(Video) SLA vs SLO vs SLI

The challenges of SLOs

SLOs get less hate than SLAs, but they can create just as many problems if they’re vague, overly complicated, or impossible to measure. The key to SLOs that don’t make your engineers want to tear their hair out is simplicity and clarity. Only the most important metrics should qualify for SLO status, the objectives should be spelled out in plain language, and, as with SLAs, they should always account for issues such as client-side delays.

Who needs SLOs?

Where SLAs are only relevant in the case of paying customers, SLOs can be useful for both paid and unpaid accounts, as well as internal and external customers.

Internal systems, such as CRMs, client data repositories, and intranet, can be just as important as external-facing systems. And having SLOs for those internal systems is an important piece of not only meeting business goals but enabling internal teams to meet their own customer-facing goals.

SLI: Service Level Indicator

What is an SLI?

An SLI (service level indicator) measures compliance with an SLO (service level objective). So, for example, if your SLA specifies that your systems will be available 99.95% of the time, your SLO is likely 99.95% uptime and your SLI is the actual measurement of your uptime. Maybe it’s 99.96%. Maybe 99.99%. To stay in compliance with your SLA, the SLI will need to meet or exceed the promises made in that document.

The challenges of SLIs

As with SLOs, the challenge of SLIs is keeping them simple, choosing the right metrics to track, and not overcomplicating IT’s job by tracking too many metrics that don’t actually matter to clients.

Create a detailed disaster recovery plan

What will you do when downtime strikes? If you don’t already know the answer to that question, the default answer will be “waste precious time figuring out what to do.”

The better your incident response plan, the quicker and more effectively your teams will handle incidents. Which is why the first step of any new incident management program should be process and planning.

(Video) SLA vs SLO vs SLI | SRE Interview Questions | DevOps FAQ |#devopsinterviewquestions |#k8s|#devops

Who needs SLIs?

Any company measuring their performance against SLOs needs SLIs in order to make those measurements. You can’t really have SLOs without SLIs.

SLA vs. SLO vs. SLI - Differences | Atlassian (3)

SLA, SLO, and SLI best practices

Craft SLAs around customer expectations

Every part of your customer agreement should be crafted around what matters to the customer. On the back end, an incident may mean addressing 10 different components. But in the client’s view, all that matters is that the system functions as expected.

Your SLAs and SLOs should reflect this reality. Don’t overcomplicate things by drilling down to a granular level and making individual promises for each of those 10 components. Keep your promises confined to the high-level, user-facing functionality. This will keep clients happier and less confused and simplify the lives of IT pros responsible for making good on your SLA promises.

Use plain language in SLAs

Clients won’t always ask for clarification, so if your SLA language is complicated, you’re probably setting yourself up for some painful misunderstandings down the line. The simpler your language, the less likely client conflict is in your future.

With SLOs, less is more

Not every metric is vital to client success, which means not every metric should be an SLO. Commit to as few SLOs as possible and focus on the ones that matter most to customers.

(Video) SLA vs SLO vs SLI

Not every trackable metric should be an SLI

Similarly, tracking performance on 10 components for each of 10 SLOs can get unwieldy very quickly. Instead, strategically choose which metrics actually matter to your core SLOs and put your energy into tracking those effectively.

Include factors outside the IT team’s control

What happens when the client is the one slowing down time to resolution? If you aren’t clear on this in your SLA, your team may be held to the impossible standard of resolving client issues without client involvement.

Build in an error budget

Leaving room for failures not only protects the business from SLA violations and hefty consequences, it also leaves room for agility—for the team to make changes quickly and have the space to try innovative new solutions that might fail.

Google actually recommends using leftover error budget for planned downtime, which can help you identify unforeseen issues (e.g. services using servers inappropriately) and maintain appropriate expectations from your clients.

Don’t shoot for the moon

Just because your team can probably maintain 99.99% uptime doesn’t mean that 99.99% should be your SLO number. It’s always better to under-promise and overdeliver. This is especially true for agile teams who want to launch early and often and need an error budget to keep up that quick pace.

How does this impact SREs?

For those of you following Google’s model and using Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) teams to bridge the gap between development and operations, SLAs, SLOs, and SLIs are foundational to success. SLAs help teams set boundaries and error budgets. SLOs help prioritize work. And SLIs tell SREs when they need to freeze all launches to save an endangered error budget—and when they can loosen up the reins.

(Video) SLI, SLO, SLA - Basics Part 1

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What is SLO and what is the difference between SLA and SLO? ›

SLAs are used externally to define an agreement between a company's service and its paid users. SLOs are objectives that are measured internally to determine whether the SLA is being met. If an SLO's terms are violated, teams must respond and react quickly to prevent from breaking the SLA.

Why do we need to think about SLOs and SLAs? ›

An SLO can help you define your business goals and objectives, while an SLA can help you track progress toward those goals. It's important to remember that organizations should use both; the two create a complete picture of your company's service levels.

How do you define SLOs and SLIs? ›

How we define SLI and SLO
  1. SLIs are the key measurements to determine the availability of a system.
  2. SLOs are goals we set for how much availability we expect out of a system.
  3. SLAs are the legal contracts that explain what happens if the system doesn't meet its SLO.
Feb 7, 2022

What is a service level objective SLO )? Select the correct answer? ›

Service-Level Objective (SLO)

Availability, in SRE terms, defines whether a system is able to fulfill its intended function at a point in time.

What are the 3 types of SLA? ›

What are the three types of SLAs? There are three basic types of SLAs: customer, internal and multilevel service-level agreements. A customer service-level agreement is between a service provider and its external customers. It is sometimes called an external service agreement.

What is the difference between SLA and SL? ›

Any student of 3D printing history understands SLA as the abbreviation for StereoLithography Apparatus, similar to PCA as the commonly used abbreviation for Post-Cure Apparatus. SL is an easily understood and generic' abbreviation for stereolithography as a process, distinct from any particular equipment.

What would be 1 important thing to consider to build a successful SLA? ›

Consistent service quality across all service desk platforms – for example, over the phone, self-service, or via email. Updating the end user as agreed. Clear, concise, and professional communication. The proactivity of the service being provided.

Why is SLA necessary? ›

Service-level agreements (SLAs) are important because they establish clear commitments between a service provider and a customer. Service-level agreements are common in the telecommunications industry and provide corporations with a guarantee that certain standards will be upheld.

What is SLA and why is it difficult? ›

SLAs (service level agreements) are notoriously difficult to measure, report on, and meet. They can also be difficult to configure and change in many service desks. Still, it's important to track your performance against top objectives, and SLAs provide a great opportunity to improve customer satisfaction.

Which of these is an example of SLI? ›

Some examples of common SLI metrics include: Latency. Availability. Error rate.

What is an example of SLI in SRE? ›

What is SLI in SRE? In Site Reliability Engineering, SLI refers to the service level indicator which is a numerical indicator that can be measured to gauge the reliability of an application service. An example would be the “Application latency” for a web application.

Which type of SLI is most important for storage systems? ›

SLI metrics to track
  • User-facing servicing systems should prioritize availability, latency, and throughput.
  • Storage systems should prioritize latency, availability, and durability.
  • Big data systems should prioritize throughput and end-to-end latency.
Mar 23, 2022

What are the examples of SLO service level objective? ›

Common examples of metrics that can be associated with SLOs are disaster recovery time, application availability, live communication response time, first call resolution rate and application maintenance.

What is SLA answer? ›

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider and a customer, defining the types and standards of services to be offered.

What are the three parts of an SLO? ›

The SLO process has three main phases, including the completion and approval of the SLO, updates (as needed), and final submission.

What are the 4 aspects of SLA? ›

The main elements of a good SLA.
  • Overall objectives. The SLA should set out the overall objectives for the services to be provided. ...
  • Description of the Services. The SLA should include a detailed description of the services. ...
  • Performance Standards. ...
  • Compensation/Service Credits. ...
  • Critical Failure.

What are SLA examples? ›

A service level agreement SLA is an agreement between an IT Service provider and a customer. For instance, you are a customer of a bank and the bank provides services to you. A service level agreement between you and the bank describes the services provided and the service levels at which they will be provided.

What is SLA framework? ›

What is an SLA? A service level agreement (SLA) is a documented agreement between a service provider and a customer that identifies both the services required and the expected level of service. The agreement varies between vendors, services, and industries.

What are the 2 types of SLA in service now? ›

Three types are :
  • SLA - service level agreement.
  • OLA - operational-level agreement.
  • Underpinning Contract.
Aug 27, 2018

Is SLA the same as SLS? ›

SLS (selective laser sintering) is a 3D printing technique that uses a laser to fuse together small particles of plastic, metal, glass, or ceramic powder into a solid object. SLA (stereolithography) uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to cure (harden) photosensitive resin into the desired shape.

What is SLA vs SLE? ›

SLA is a loaded term that means different things in different contexts but generally is an external commitment about the service levels a team will provide. As mentioned an SLE is mainly internally focused. Bottom line – SLEs are used by Scrum Teams to set flow expectations for themselves.

What are the challenges in SLA? ›

Here are seven (7) typical issues to consider as a customer reviewing any proposed SLA:
  • Uptime (Availability) & Downtime. ...
  • Support Hours. ...
  • Response and Repair Times. ...
  • Severity Levels. ...
  • SLA Credits. ...
  • Notice. ...
  • Termination Right.
Jan 29, 2018

How can I improve my SLA response time? ›

If you or your team are having trouble meeting SLA goals, the strategies below may help:
  1. Invest in service desk team training. The starting point is analyzing the average time each service agent takes to respond to customers. ...
  2. Simplify service processes. ...
  3. Implement Call Management Software.
Feb 18, 2019

What are the main disadvantages of using SLA? ›

  • Parts are affected by moisture, heat, and chemicals.
  • limited to photosensitive resin.
  • Layers cause stairstepping instead of smooth surface.

What is the objective of SLA? ›

The purpose of Service Level Agreement Management is to manage Service Level Agreements in a way that customer requirements are reflected and contracts are coordinated and harmonized. Basic requirement is to balance the value and quality for the customer with the costs of service.

What is the most important aspect of a SLA? ›

Answer: B - The most important aspect of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is that it is measurable. Key Takeaway: A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is important to ensure that all parties understand its contents. Avoiding unnecessary language and technical details helps reduce confusion.

How do you explain SLA in an interview? ›

Answer : A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an agreement between a customer and a provider of services. In this case, IT services provided by CIO/OFT as an IT Shared Services provider to state agencies and other governmental entities who are the customers.

Why do SLAs fail? ›

If there is no trust, even the best SLA will fail. The relationship is all important in successful SLM especially in out-source arrangements as the parties don't usually have a prior business relationship with one another and therefore there needs to be a development of trust.

What happens if SLA is violated? ›

An SLA breach can mean delayed product delivery or poor service performance. A recent survey from Infrascale revealed that IT downtime: Creates business disruption. Decreases employee productivity.

What is an SLI used for? ›

What is a Shipper's Letter of Instruction (SLI)? A shipping document, generated by the shipper/exporter, that provides transportation and documentation instructions for a freight forwarder or carrier.

How many types of SLI are there? ›

Common SLIs include latency, throughput, availability, and error rate; others include durability (in storage systems), end-to-end latency (for complex data processing systems, especially pipelines), and correctness.

Which definition best describes a SLI? ›

A service level indicator (SLI) is a metric that indicates what measure of performance a customer is receiving at a given time. The term is used by DevOps engineers when discussing quality of service (QoS).

What is SLO vs SLI examples? ›

An SLI (service level indicator) measures compliance with an SLO (service level objective). So, for example, if your SLA specifies that your systems will be available 99.95% of the time, your SLO is likely 99.95% uptime and your SLI is the actual measurement of your uptime. Maybe it's 99.96%. Maybe 99.99%.

What is the difference between an SLI and an SLO and how are these used in the context of error budgets? ›

According to the book Implementing Service Level Objectives, “an error budget is a way of measuring how your service level indicator (SLI) has performed against your service level objective (SLO) over a period of time.

How is SLI calculated? ›

The SLI equation is the number of good events divided by the total number of valid events, multiplied by 100 to keep it a uniform percentage. Let's look at the SLIs we want to measure for the “Checkout” critical user journey.

What are the consequences of missing SLO? ›

The most common consequence of any potential or actual SLO violation is that your monitoring systems tells a human that they need to investigate and take remedial action.

What is the difference between KPI and SLI? ›

SLI´s are used in combination with a service and its SLA´s (Service Level Agreements). KPI´s are used to evaluate the effectivness of a company (a team, a group, ...) When you break it down, in both cases you choose indicators which give you an insight, to evaluate how good something is.

When should you set your latency thresholds? ›

This notification specifies how long it takes CDC Replication to apply data to the target datastore. You must set latency thresholds before you can set a notification.

What is the difference between SLO and SLA? ›

SLAs are used externally to define an agreement between a company's service and its paid users. SLOs are objectives that are measured internally to determine whether the SLA is being met. If an SLO's terms are violated, teams must respond and react quickly to prevent from breaking the SLA.

How do I write a SLO goal? ›

How to Write a Quality SLO for Your Context
  1. Baseline Data and Rationale. ...
  2. Learning Content and Grade Level. ...
  3. Student Population. ...
  4. Evidence Sources. ...
  5. Targeted Growth. ...
  6. Time Interval. ...
  7. Instructional/Leadership Strategies and Support. ...
  8. SLO Goal Statement.

What is the purpose of the SLO process? ›

The SLO process represents a continuous cycle of improvement embodied in strong teaching practice. Teachers and their appraisers will use SLOs to design strategies to meet their goals for student success, beginning with planning and leading to thoughtful instructional design and delivery.

What is a SLA simple definition? ›

A service-level agreement (SLA) sets the expectations between the service provider and the customer and describes the products or services to be delivered, the single point of contact for end-user problems, and the metrics by which the effectiveness of the process is monitored and approved.

How do you calculate response SLA? ›

Displaying plans. First Response SLA% = The percentage of the number of tickets where the first responses were sent within the SLA divided by the total number of tickets on which the first responses were sent in a selected time period within the filters on the reports.

How do you write a simple SLA? ›

How to write an SLA
  1. Evaluate your current service levels. ...
  2. Identify your objectives. ...
  3. Choose a contract format. ...
  4. Determine the level of service. ...
  5. Articulate the terms of the agreement. ...
  6. Clarify performance expectations. ...
  7. Outline payment expectations. ...
  8. Include appendices if necessary.
Jun 8, 2021

What are the five components of SLO process? ›

There are six elements in each SLO: learning content, assessments, student growth targets, student population, instructional strategies and instruction interval. While all elements are important to consider, three elements – learning content, student growth targets, and assessments are pivotal for an effective SLO.

What are three phases of the SLO process in order? ›

This document guides educators in the development of student learning objectives (SLOs) in three phases: Design, Build, and Review. Each phase includes customized training and educator-friendly tools to ensure that the SLOs meet the criteria within Template #7 – SLO Coherency Rubric.

What are the three 3 elements of the teaching/learning process? ›

Effective teaching involves aligning the three major components of instruction: learning objectives, assessments, and instructional activities.

What does SLO mean? ›

Writing Quality Student/School Learning Objectives (SLO)

What is the SLO process? ›

The SLO process involves interpreting data, setting goals, using data to assess progress and adjusting instruction based on data collected. SLOs acknowledge the value of teacher knowledge and teacher skill. The development or selection of SLOs is a process uniquely aligned to teacher skills and experiences.

What does the word SLO mean? ›

Student Learning Objective (SLO)

What does SLO mean in it? ›

Within service-level agreements (SLAs), SLOs are the objectives that must be achieved — for each service activity, function and process — to provide the best opportunity for service recipient success (see SLA).

What are SLA objectives? ›

A service-level objective (SLO) is the part of a service-level agreement (SLA) that documents the key performance indicators (KPIs) the customer should expect from a provider.

What is the goal of SLO? ›

Student Learning Objectives, or SLOs, are student growth goals set by teachers to help them plan instruction and drive student learning throughout the year. Setting learning goals and measuring student progress allows educators to better understand their students' strengths and how best to support student growth.

What are the elements of SLO? ›

There are six elements in each SLO: learning content, assessments, student growth targets, student population, instructional strategies and instruction interval. While all elements are important to consider, three elements – learning content, student growth targets, and assessments are pivotal for an effective SLO.

How many types of SLO are there? ›

Availability and latency SLOs are pretty common; freshness, durability, correctness, quality, and coverage SLOs also have their place (we'll talk more about those later).

What is SLO performance? ›

A service-level objective (SLO) is a key element of a service-level agreement (SLA) between a service provider and a customer. SLOs are agreed upon as a means of measuring the performance of the Service Provider and are outlined as a way of avoiding disputes between the two parties based on misunderstanding.

What is an SLO assessment? ›

Student learning outcome (SLO) assessment refers to the use of information about student learning to better understand and help improve language teaching, materials, or curricula.

What is SLO based learning? ›

SLO ( Students learning objectives) based learning is an initiative taken by FBISE to enhance students' learning level. It gives students choice to learn things from more than one textbook which not only double their knowledge but will aware the students about the topic in a broader way.

What is the difference between SLI and KPI? ›

SLI´s are used in combination with a service and its SLA´s (Service Level Agreements). KPI´s are used to evaluate the effectivness of a company (a team, a group, ...) When you break it down, in both cases you choose indicators which give you an insight, to evaluate how good something is.


1. SLIs, SLOs, SLAs, oh my! (class SRE implements DevOps)
(Google Cloud Tech)
2. SRE Demystified - 01 - SLO SLI and SLA
(Dr Ganesh Neelakanta Iyer)
3. The Art of SLOs (Service Level Objectives)
(Google Cloud Tech)
4. DevOps: SRE, SLA, SLO, SLI Site Reliability Engineering, Service Level Agreement Objective Indicator
(Efelti Langlover)
5. L7: SLIs SLOs and SLAs
(Distributed Systems Course)
6. Implementing SRE practices: SLI/SLO deep dive - David Blank Edelman - DevOpsDays Tel Aviv 2018
(DevOpsDays Tel Aviv)
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